Community Blog

This blog space is for the European Leadership Academy alumnae to share their vision on relevant topics shaping Europe’s twin transition, the quest for equality and the future of technology.
The views and opinions expressed in this section are those of the alumnae and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the European Leadership Academy.

 
 

Dreaming Big and Flying High

 

For as long as I can remember, I had so many interests pulling me in different directions, making it challenging to choose a specific career path. Yet amidst the plethora of opportunities, one industry consistently beckoned me - Aviation. It felt like a distant dream, quietly waiting for the right moment to take flight. Perhaps it’s in my blood – my grandfather was an aircraft mechanic, and my mom used to work at the airport. Rather than waiting for opportunities to come my way, I decided to test the waters in this appealing industry. My very first job, during high school, involved assisting passengers with the newly introduced self-service check-in kiosks at Riga International Airport. Though brief, this experience laid the foundation for my future endeavors in aviation. Despite ... read more


Alisa Uzarina on 22/05/2024

Short story of a creative kid who dreamed of becoming president

According to reliable sources, I was a career-oriented kid who had no intention of settling for just one dream job. They say I used to explain my “plan” of getting multiple degrees and wanting to cover a variety of positions in different fields.

It wasn’t until later that I found my drive for politics and leadership – that came out after my passion for writing and before my discovery of project management – but you can definitely tell the spirit has always been there. Proofs of my first attempts to be on the frontline against inequalities date back to primary school, but my interest in politics as a thing sparked in middle school when I created a fictional party (that was actually a Whatsapp group) that had the ... read more


Alessia Ruta on 14/05/2024

Double Excellence: An Excellent Year and a New Position in Operational Excellence

As the calendar pages turn, I habitually look back and do an end-of-year reflection before setting new year’s goals. This is a moment to ponder the highs and lows, celebrate the victories and distil the lessons learned. 2023, a chapter now reaching its final pages, has been a canvas of personal growth and modest yet meaningful achievements. And probably last December, when I was planning the next year, I could hardly imagine where I would be writing these paragraphs twelve months later.

This year kicked off with an expected but unique opportunity that I am especially grateful for - representing the European Leadership Academy at the study trip to Barcelona in the context of the Mobile World Congress, a cornerstone event in the industry. Stepping into the vibrant hub of ... read more


Alisa Uzarina on 29/12/2023

Education: a conveyor of (self-)empowerment

If I had to pick one word to describe my 2023, I’d certainly choose « transition ».

I stopped studying full time, explored new endeavours in tech and politics, and even moved from my dear hometown to Paris. Honestly, it wasn’t easy. I knew, but never experienced, the extent to which change could be uncomfortable.

I’ve spent weeks questioning myself, trying to learn how to embrace the freedom of choosing, failing, and resting that I’ve always dreamed of.

Never in a billion years could I have ever imagined being able to not just survive, but to actually « live ». It is such a thrilling sensation.

I’ve spent so much time fighting - ... read more


Cara Doumbe Kingue on 28/12/2023

Breaking barriers and embracing self-love

As the calendar turned its pages to the year 2023, I embarked on a profound journey of self-discovery and personal growth, achieving milestones that transformed my life. In the span of these twelve months, I triumphed over my own limitations, learned the art of solitude, set healthy boundaries, cultivated self-belief, birthed innovative ideas, and, most importantly, began a love affair with the person staring back at me in the mirror.

One of the most significant achievements of the year was my ability to transcend the boundaries that once confined me. The comfort zone - often a cocoon of familiarity - can be both a haven and a hindrance. In 2023 I consciously stepped out of that safe cocoon, facing challenges that intimidated me before. By embracing discomfort, I discovered untapped potentials and capabilities that ... read more


Point it out in a way that resonates

As 2023 approached, I knew I had to change my lifestyle. I had far too much on my plate. On days off, I'd either crash, sleep endlessly, or worse, try to sleep the day away, fighting the thoughts of everything I felt obliged to do. The idea of doing nothing seemed impossible.

Sometimes you know deep down that things aren't right, but you need someone to point it out in a way that resonates. Just saying the obvious isn't enough. For me, that person was my mentor.

I always thought that life has a funny way of bringing new people into your life when you need them most. Surprisingly, although we worked in the same company and were from the same city, we hadn't met before. He ... read more


Nina Brauc on 26/12/2023

Try, Try Again: The Power of Perseverance

When I opened the letter box I saw a small envelope, almost inconspicuous in its size. As I hastily tore it apart, my fears were validated. A small envelope typically signifies rejection, and in this case, it was from my dream scholarship.

Though over two years had passed since the initial disappointment, the sting of that rejection had stayed with me. Therefore, when the prospect of reapplying materialized this year, my initial instinct was to seize the opportunity without a second thought. However, upon deeper reflection, doubts began to creep in. What if I failed again? Clearly, I hadn’t been good enough the first time.

Following careful consideration, I decided to give it another shot. After all, I had spent countless nights thinking about what I would have ... read more


Hannah Charlotte Kuhn on 25/12/2023

A Year of Achievements: Nurturing passion for positive change

In the whirlwind of events that defined my 2023, one could say it was a year of profound personal and professional growth, a journey marked by determination, interdisciplinary exploration, and a commitment to making a positive impact. As a computer science student, completing my master's degree was a significant milestone, yet it was merely the launchpad for a series of endeavors that would shape my path as an initiator and advocate for change.

The completion of the master's degree definitely marked my 2023 the most. Following it, I decided to embark on a PhD programme embracing the challenges and opportunities that research and academia offer with the goal of continuing my passion of making a positive impact, especially in sustainability. Additionally, I started working in academia with the goal of contributing to ... read more


Stella Dumenčić on 22/12/2023

Taking Breaks Doesn't Mean Giving Up

As 2023 draws to an end, I find myself looking back, and I can confidently say it was my best year as a writer so far. People have finally started recognising my work. Never before have I received such an overwhelming amount of love for my writing as I have in 2023 from people all around the world. However, it hasn’t come without its struggles, including doubts.

In 2021, I published my first book and attempted to promote it on social media, but it didn’t work. Discouraged, I took a break, occasionally working on my second book and new stories. It wasn’t until the end of 2022 that I rediscovered my love for creating videos. I focused on posting short videos on social media. In today’s world, social ... read more


Austėja Keturkaitė on 21/12/2023

'What, like it's hard?' European Leadership Academy

There are many ways to describe the experience that this Summer School provides, yet none that does it justice. How is it possible to write about something that cannot be understood through other than direct experience? As a young woman, yet one of the oldest participants in this edition, the thought of sharing these lines publicly is, I admit, intimidating. Upon meeting the remarkable participants on the first day and engaging with the brilliant speakers and trainers thoughtfully selected by the organizing committee, it was easy to succumb to self-doubt. 

However, as I continued to collaborate with them and have meaningful conversations, my feelings of inadequacy gradually faded. These wonderful ladies showed to me boundless grace, kindness, empowerment, and unwavering support. They fostered an environment where I simultaneously felt safe and ... read more


Dora Ioana Crisan on 13/11/2023

Embracing Adversity: Strategies for Individuals and Leaders

Life, in its unpredictable course, often subjects us to challenging situations and formidable hardships. These trials, while undeniably testing, also present opportunities for growth, resilience, and transformation. Whether you are an individual facing personal struggles or a leader steering a team through turbulent times, the strategies employed to overcome difficulties share fundamental principles. Let's explore how one can stand up against hardship and how good leaders can effectively face challenges.


The first step is Acceptance and Resilience: Acceptance is at the heart of overcoming every difficulty. Recognising the situation's truth is the first step towards resilience. Resilience, or the ability to recover from setbacks, is created by facing adversity with tenacity and fortitude. Positive Mindset is another important strategy. A good outlook can be a powerful shield against misfortune. ... read more


Harnessing Power from Within

For a true leader, facing challenges head-on is not just about personal growth, but also about setting an example and guiding others through the storm with courage and grace. I've faced my share of challenges, and let's be real, the world isn’t always on our side. But every challenge, every obstacle, offers a lesson in strength, resilience, and leadership. Here's my take on standing up to hardship and leading through difficulties.

First of all, don’t be afraid to embrace your vulnerability; it is not a sign of weakness but rather a gateway to genuine connections and support. As a young woman navigating through the ups and downs, there is potency in allowing myself to be seen, to share my struggles without the fear of judgment, ... read more


Jana Havránková on 30/10/2023

The Path to a Resilient Leadership

Life is full of challenges, especially when we dare to step out of our comfort zone. Instead of dodging difficulties, I've learned to embrace them and find a way through. It's in these challenges that we get the opportunity to learn and achieve personal growth.

As a 25-year-old woman of colour pursuing a degree in industrial engineering, my journey has been nothing short of challenging. My journey towards leadership is not just about solving complex equations and optimising processes; it's also about learning to stand up against hardship and overcoming difficulties.

In our modern world, leadership has evolved beyond the stereotypical images of tough figures. Leadership knows no bounds of gender or age; it's defined by the ability to inspire, adapt, and lead with empathy even ... read more


Sanna Azikzi on 26/10/2023

From “Hogwarts for Europe's future female leaders” to Lifelong Bonds: My ELA’s journey.

To describe my experience in the first Women's Academy for Rural Innovation, I always use this quote from Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." because during that week I felt more empowered, inspired, and hopeful than I have ever felt in my life. 


My entire life has been spent in a rural area. I applied to attend this school to actively contribute to making my rural community (and others) attractive to current and potential residents. Rural areas are not only places where our grandparents live; they are "the fabric of our society and the heartbeat of our economy" - Ursula von der Leyen. ... read more


Seeking Discomfort and Finding Growth: The Rooms We Don’t Belong In

In our journey through life, we often find ourselves in situations that demand courage, strength, and a willingness to explore uncharted territories. These moments of discomfort, as challenging and daunting as they may be, have the power to redefine our perspectives, unlock doors to new possibilities, and ultimately, transform us into better versions of ourselves. My experience at the European Leadership Academy (ELA) in Valencia this summer was one such pivotal moment that left an indelible mark on my journey of self-discovery.

Just four days before I arrived in Valencia for the European Leadership Academy, I experienced a significant milestone: my master's graduation. This was a day I had been working towards for five years, a day that marked both the conclusion of an academic chapter and the end of my ... read more


Radina Kraeva on 04/10/2023

Symbiosis - "a mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups"

Our world is burning. War is raging. AI is coming to eclipse us all.

This doomsday rhetoric on what is to come for humanity is so prevalent that for many of us, the volume and severity of issues we face can seem insurmountable. We might all be forgiven for the temptation to throw in the towel and resign ourselves to impending doom.

But all is not lost.

Enter: youthful idealism; a group of 28 women from across Europe convening in Valencia to discuss world issues and the solutions they wish to see implemented. I was delighted to represent Ireland in their midst, excited to see what the week had in store, and yet, in the back of my mind was a question that many might ask upon reading about ... read more


Sara Rafter on 02/10/2023

My Life-Changing Experience at the European Leadership Academy

In October 2022, I embarked on a journey that would forever alter the course of my life. It all began with a chance encounter on the internet, stumbling upon the European Leadership Academy (ELA) and its Women's Academy for Rural Innovation which is a part of Huawei’s broader educational initiative Seeds for the Future. Little did I know that this opportunity would become a transformative chapter in my personal and professional growth.
As I explored the ELA's website, I couldn't help but be drawn to its mission of empowering rural women through digital inclusion. The idea of a programme dedicated to nurturing the potential of women from rural areas was like a dream come true.

However, skepticism crept in as I considered the possibility of it ... read more


Maren Jennings on 29/09/2023

From Student to Ambassador: A Two-Year Odyssey within European Leadership Academy

A journey two years long, yet astonishingly rich in experiences, serves as a testament to the transformative power of the European Leadership Academy (ELA). I would not exaggerate in saying that these two years have been the brightest period of my life so far - filled with the laughter of new friendships, top-level learning from global thought leaders, the beauty of travel destinations and the pursuit of dreams. Also, I could not be more grateful and proud to be the alumna of the inaugural School for Female Leadership in the Digital Age. It is a privilege to witness how far both this idea and I have evolved. Let’s have a look: 

July 10, 2021.
I remember this day very vividly - I was enjoying the summer holidays, carelessly ... read more


Alisa Uzarina on 27/09/2023

The Magic of Women Leadership

From a very young age, I was mainly surrounded by men. School, university, social & work environment - in most cases, men were a clear majority. I have to say, it never really bothered me; quite the opposite, it allowed me to become who I am today. I watched them and learned, I followed and I led, but it was not until I spent a week at the European Leadership Academy that I genuinely understood the magical power of being surrounded by women leaders.
Being surrounded by so many incredible women leaders has taught me more than I could ever imagine learning in such a short period. Here, I want to share some of the most important lessons I took away from this experience.

Don't Be Afraid To Learn<... read more


Giedre Krotovaite on 22/09/2023

LEADER - 6 Letters, 6 Examples, 6 Pieces of Advice

I vividly recall a conversation at work where we were discussing each others’ management approaches, and my colleague exclaimed: “But does she want to be a leader, or a boss?". To me it was obvious even before that a boss and a leader are not the same, but after this conversation I found myself often assessing behaviour from this perspective. What is a true leader, and how do they differ from a boss?

1. L - Listening

While leaders often rise to their positions by making their individual voices heard, true leaders understand the importance of active listening. Besides gaining trust, it also allows for a deeper understanding of situations. The smartest manager I have ever worked with is my current director. I am sure part of ... read more


Alisa Uzarina on 13/06/2023

Lead others as you wish to be led

In a world that's searching for guidance and sustainable change, I continually ponder the essence of leadership and how to lead in a way that transcends boundaries, amplifying unheard voices and bringing them to the forefront.

Leadership, to me, is a powerful force that inspires change and lifts others. Through my journey at the European Leadership Academy, I realised that the responsibility I have as an aspiring teacher is to make a lasting impact on the next generation. In my opinion, a leader represents more than just their own journey; they embody the diversity of their community. It is crucial for women to see women as leaders, breaking free from societal limitations and stereotypes. Through my cousin's example I learned that leadership knows no bounds. She has a gentle heart ... read more


Kosovare Sallahu on 13/06/2023

From borders to bytes: how the EU’s motto is bridging divides with digital technologies

In varietate concordia. Once adopted by Ernesto Teodoro Moneta, an Italian journalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, these Latin words became the motto of the European Union. Even though it may not be so well known as an EU symbol, 'United in diversity' illustrates well Europe's pluralistic nature.

There is something exciting about exploring the remotest parts of the world. Even so, I must admit, Europe hides so many gems, that one life isn't enough to discover them all. Moreover, thanks to the EU single market and Schengen Area, as well as technological developments, crossing borders has become almost seamless.

As we all know, Europe comprises about fifty separate, sovereign countries (with 27 part of the EU), each with its unique history, culture, nature, and ethnic make-up. Let's ... read more


Alisa Uzarina on 09/05/2023

Europe uniquely brings us together in the digital age

I often look at Europe with a proud daughter sentiment. My ancestors’ roots may not be Germanic or even Slavic, but like every European I share the same legacy: this wonderful construct that is the EU.

Listening, collaborating, supporting… we all take those for granted and often forget how far Europe has come from; a continent that was once perpetually  harmed by lasting wars, ridden by cultural misunderstandings, slowed by endless circles of rebuilding, now an example of hope and peace.

Populism tries to make us believe that « before » and « alone » were better, but the external viewpoint I have as a daughter of immigrants leaves me perplexed at this idea.

Would there really be progress without the free circulation of thoughts ... read more


Cara Doumbe Kingue on 09/05/2023

An identity called 'diversity’

I am a post-Maastricht baby: I was born in the European Union just a few days prior to the official introduction of the single currency, attended a high school that offered a curriculum in European studies (inspired by the Maastricht Treaty itself), never needed a passport to travel abroad, have countless international friends and won an Erasmus+ scholarship to study in a country other than my own for a year (this plan sunk, but for reasons that are less relevant to world history and for which it’s not the EU to be held accountable).

This means that, although it took quite some time to learn how the EU machinery works and what comes with it, growing up I didn’t go a single day without knowing that I’... read more


Alessia Ruta on 09/05/2023